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An Unsung Hero: Tom Crean - Antarctic Survivor

4.42  ·  Rating Details  ·  482 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Now available in a fresh, new format, this is the story of the remarkable Tom Crean who ran away to sea aged fifteen and played a memorable role in Antarctic exploration. An unforgettable story of triumph over unparalleled hardship and deprivation does justice to this enigmatic figure.
Paperback, 357 pages
Published 2010 by The Collins Press (first published 2000)
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(showing 1-30 of 969)
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Nov 21, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps my favorite book - true story of an Irishman, Tom Crean, who is part of the British expedition to be the first to reach the South Pole. The British lost the race to the North Pole but thought they could save face by focusing on the South Pole. All three attempts fail, and each time Tom almost single-handedly saves them all from dying; often by trekking solo without food through blizzard conditions for days to get help. No one on the team can fathom how he survives (he loses many of his d ...more
I had already read about Crean in books on Scott and Shackleton's expeditions, so I was looking forward to reading an entire biography focused on him. There was very little new material though (which is probably the reason why there haven't been Crean biographies before - there just isn't enough information about him). I would probably give the content of the book 3 stars.

However, the writing style is annoying. The author seems much too partial to be a good historian, and the book reads more lik
Aug 30, 2011 Trawets rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tom Crean joined Scott's first Polar expedition almost by chance, but went on to become a stalwart of three Antarctic expiditions, two with Scott and one with Shackleton.
An Able Seaman on his first expedition, Tom Crean won the admiration of his messmates, officers and scientists on all three trips. By almost super-human effort he twice rescued companions, earning the undying gratitude of Scott's second in command Teddy Evans. He went on to be a leading member of the crew of Shackleton's epic re
Dec 14, 2008 Foster rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: exploration, history
I thoroughly enjoyed this book - it's an amazing accomplishment by the author, and you are continually reminded of what an effort it was to complete the research required to write it. Tom Crean is certainly an unsung hero of Scott and Shackleton's Antarctic adventures. It is absolutely incredible to read what they went through during those times. They had a completely different threshold for endurance (pain, patience, cold) than we can come close to today. It gives one confidence in human abilit ...more
Dec 26, 2014 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am ashamed to say that my copy of this book gathered dust on a shelf for almost a year! Once started, I found Michael Smith's book totally riveting as he tells Tom Crean's story so well. And what a story! Weaving together copious research and well-chosen extracts from letters, diaries and recounts of the Discovery and Endurance expeditions with his own compelling narrative, Crean's quiet, remarkable and stalwart character is paid a well-deserved homage. If such a thing is possible, I shall be ...more
Aug 28, 2013 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book documents the adventures of the Irishman Tom Crean across the Antarctic. The author details Tom's childhood in Kerry and his role during World War I before getting into the main part of the book which is his expeditions to the Antarctic. Tom Crean may not be a household name when compared to the likes of Shackelton and Scott. But Tom is a great example of the many men who risked their lives to go to places no men had ever dared to go before. This book is very well researched and writte ...more
May 28, 2012 Betty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, history
This paean to an Irish polar explorer who was on Scott's final expedition and Shackleton's ill-fated one is best appreciated for its photographs and maps. The text is brief, though informative, about a man little recognized for his contribution to the success in the rescue of the crew of the Endurance. Having read other books about polar exploration, the illustrations of this book conveyed a fuller appreciation of the the Scott and Shackleton ventures.
Elaine K
Sep 23, 2013 Elaine K rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of our Irish relatives loaned us this book after our daughter spent her first season in Antarctica. Tom Crean was right there with Shackleton through some of the most amazing adventures. If you were fascinated by Endurance you'll like this. Next time you are in Ireland go to the Dingle Peninsula (a stunning place) and be sure to stop at the South Pole Inn in Annascaul and don't miss the statue of Tom Crean in the village park.
Jan 30, 2016 Kristina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: polar, biography
I get the impression the author wanted an excuse to write about Antarctica and picked Crean almost at random. There are only cursory details about his life away from exploration. The few sources available about him aren't explored properly. What connection did Captain Dodds have with Crean that Tom would write to him? Who was James Kennedy that Crean also wrote to?
Elsewhere facts are confused or repeated. The maps reproduced are not the clearest available for the trips Crean made. A lot more det
Carol Relihan
Jun 29, 2013 Carol Relihan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful story about an inspiring man from rural Ireland who was the backbone of Shackleton's polar explorations. Book could be a little better written but the story stands on its own.
Nov 25, 2013 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow!!! What a great read about a great man, I was actually in tears towards the end (I won't spoil it but you will know when you read it). I will definitely read more by this author.
Apr 26, 2013 Melody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Talk about one tough mofo who doesn't get nearly enough credit. I swear these arctic explorers were superhuman. Excellent book if you're a fan of polar exploration
Victor Gibson
Jan 11, 2016 Victor Gibson rated it really liked it
This is a book about the three British Antarctic expeditions in which Tom Crean was involved, and the author writes with authority and clarity about them in a way which makes the volume a worthy addition to anyone's library on the subject of Antarctic exploration. Whether this is really about Tom Crean remains debatable. With a different top and tail it could have been about any of the others, and sure enough the author has written about both Oats and Shackleton and, as been observed, the actual ...more
Jul 19, 2012 Norman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant biography of this amazing Irishman who travelled to the pole with Shackleton and Scott, narrowly missing Scotts fatal 1912 polar trip.
Steve Jones
Apr 18, 2016 Steve Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a biography of a remarkable man, an ordinary seaman from the west coast of Ireland who ran away to sea at the age of 15 and was involved in three Antarctic expeditions during the Heroic Age of Polar exploration in Antarctica. I first became aware of Tom Crean from a television documentary about him in which Michael Smith, the author, told of a dinner party in which, during the course of a party game, a woman recounted how she only exists because Tom Crean saved the life of her grandfathe ...more
Maria Farrow
Jan 03, 2011 Maria Farrow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book about a little know hero of extraordinary fortitude and courage. Tom Crean's story should not be forgotten!
Feb 24, 2013 Kc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent read. Covered Crean's expeditions with both Scott and Shackleton and the incredible rescues he undertook.
Nov 19, 2009 Elaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
amazing book- or more correctly an amazing adventure- really enthralling real life story of Tom Crean- fantastic!
Andy Anderson
Apr 26, 2011 Andy Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
a must read for those who are interested in Ernest Shackleton's adventurers in Anartica.
Aug 12, 2013 Orla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By far the best book I have ever read. Extremely well written And an amazing life adventure.
Enda Hackett
Mar 30, 2013 Enda Hackett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a book and what a remarkable man. A great read and very inspirational.
Jun 03, 2016 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
While reading about Scott and Shackleton, I started to notice that one man, Tom Crean, consistently did the most amazing and heroic things- things that were seemingly impossible. I was excited to find this biography and enjoyed reading about him in a way that organized what I already knew about the expeditions. My only disappointment with this book was that there is not a lot of detail about Tom Crean's life. He didn't keep diaries during the expeditions, so most of the information is based on t ...more
Ciara *I love Harry Potter!*
Tom Crean is a real hero, and this insightful books tells us why.
Gary O'brien
Jan 23, 2013 Gary O'brien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolute legend. It's not everyday you acquire a new hero.
Oonz Oonz
Dec 16, 2007 Oonz Oonz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
really interesting story about endurance and adventure.
Emmet E
Mar 19, 2013 Emmet E rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book
I did enjoy this, but, as a couple of other reviewers have said, there's not really a whole lot of new information on Crean here. The vast majority of the book covers his participation in three expeditions to the Antarctic with Scott and Shackelton, which is fine, but all of that is available from a vast many other sources; I was really just hoping to learn more about his life before and after Antarctica, I guess, and this book only contains a couple of fairly skimpy chapters about those times i ...more
Lord Brett Sinclair
May 31, 2014 Lord Brett Sinclair rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-and-shelved
Crean was an incredible explorer and any book that lists his exploits can scarcely fail but to be impressive. Michael Smith has made the most of the limited resources available, Crean unusually for the period never kept a diary, to write a compelling page-turner that fully gives justice to Annascaul man. A slightly dubious chapter that proclaims Scott would have survived if he had chosen Crean aside, this is an excellent book and an impressive addition to the literature of polar exploration.
David Cartwright
Jun 28, 2015 David Cartwright rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well researched and well written book about a very tough gentle Irish man who had a very tough life but made good through grit and determination . A true life unsung hero , a lot of others owe their life to him and if he had been on Scots final push to the Pole things may well have turned out differently. The book was a little slow to start but the pace soon picked up as Toms life changed . Would make a great film.
Feb 24, 2015 Zelony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredible man, but a fairly badly written biography. Based on the quality of writing I worry that he's glorified Tom Crean and I'm not sure I really trust the portrait. Other books I've read about the Scott and Shackleton expeditions don't say much about him beyond being strong, experienced and reliable. If anyone could recommend any other books with more about Crean I'd be grateful.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads' database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Michael Smith gave up a 30 year career as a leading business and political journalist to write the bestselling biography, An Unsung Hero - Tom Crean. He was formerly Political Correspondent and Industrial Editor of the Guardian, City Editor of the London Evening Standard a
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